Social Mobility Commission: low income pupils’ progress at secondary school

The Social Mobility Commission has published new research into “the barriers to progress that low income pupils face at secondary school”.

The report suggests that “decisions and actions taken by schools can have a profound impact on outcomes”. In particular, it highlights:

  • a school culture of high expectations for pupils
  • the effective use of data to track progress and intervene when needed
  • the ability to recruit teachers with the necessary skills and attitudes
  • high quality teaching of pupils with SEND
  • mixed ability classes
  • dedicating resources to younger pupils rather than focusing them on key stage 4

By analysing the national pupil database, the research makes the following observation about patterns in low income pupils’ progress nationally:

  • low income pupils make less progress at secondary schools than their peers, even if they made more progress than others at primary school
  • most of the gap in progress is caused by differences in achievement within school, rather than between schools
  • parental, family and out-of-school factors have a greater impact on pupils’ achievement at secondary school than at primary school
  • low income pupils living in rural areas make less progress than those living in cities
  • the progress gap is largest in schools with average levels of pupil disadvantage
  • low income ethnic minority pupils make more progress than low income White British pupils

The authors conclude that “focusing on differences between schools (such as school type) is therefore a distraction”.

Read the report in full: Low-income pupils’ progress at secondary school

Published: 03/03/2017, by Sam Henson
Last Updated: 05/09/2018, by Tom Fellows